MACLAUGHLIN, DONALD CLAY JR. Name: Donald Clay MacLaughlin, Jr. Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 76, USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN 65) Date of Birth: 21 May 1941 Home City of Record: Baltimore MD Date of Loss: 02 January 1966 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 144557N 1085157E (BS703334) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C Refno: 0227 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station on December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought with her not only an imposing physical presence, but also an impressive component of warplanes and the newest technology. By the end of her first week of combat operations, the ENTERPRISE had set a record of 165 combat sorties in a single day, surpassing the KITTY HAWK's 131. By the end of her first combat cruise, her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record had not been achieved without cost. One of the combat aircraft that launched from the decks of the ENTERPRISE was the A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was built by Douglas Aircraft to provide the Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size, the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and maneuverability were essential. LTJG Donald C. MacLaughlin, Jr. wa a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 76 onboard the USS ENTERPRISE> On January 2, 1966, MacLaughlin was flying as a wingman in an A4C Skyhawk on a combat mission in South Vietnam. Weather in the target area was 2300-2600 feet overcast. Approximately 3 miles south of the target, visibility reduced to zero in fog. The flight leader made the first run and, after pulling off the target instructed the wingman to pull up and hold in a clear area. No acknowledgement was received. The leader made one more run then called again to MacLaughlin, but received no answer. The flight leader transmitted in blind to the rendezvous point after three orbits. The leader then alerted search and rescue (SAR) to look for his wingman. The search proved fruitless and the leader returned to ship. Later search efforts located wreckage that was widely dispersed indicating a shallow impact angle. Although small arms fire was reported in the target area, the cause of the accident was unknown. Search and rescue helicopters landed near the scene later that day, but crewmen were unable to locate the ejection seat or MacLaughlin. Search and rescue continued their search and the following day, located MacLaughlin's body. Enemy ground fire prevented them from recovering the body, however. MacLaughlin's name is listed among American personnel prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia because his body was never recovered. Death is all but certain for Donald C. MacLaughlin, Jr. Although he apparently ejected from his aircraft, he died in the effort or at some point after. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible. Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace. The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men unaccounted for at the end of a war. Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to bring these men home from Southeast Asia?